Like a broken record, Erika is still very disorganized, and has still not turned toward the northwest.  Since a surface circulation could not be found by aircraft reconnaissance — the latest best guess of a surface center is now near the northern coast of Cuba — it no longer qualifies as a tropical cyclone. But several inches of rain are still possible across parts of central and southern Florida starting Sunday.


Visible satellite image of Erika (or its remnants) from 7:45 a.m. EDT today; the approximate center marked with a red X. (NASA, adapted by CWG)

Erika has been forecast to turn toward the northwest for several days now, and it did not.  Only recently did it start to nudge slightly to the west-northwest.  The persistence in track forecasts is illustrated in the chart below, which shows a series of model consensus track forecasts overlaid, with the oldest in light blue and the most recent in dark blue.  The red Xs show the actual observed center.  The official National Hurricane Center tracks look nearly identical to these.


Model consensus track forecasts over the past six forecast cycles. (UAlbany)

With that in mind, below is the 8 a.m. update to the official forecast, which does notably include a northwest turn today.  The funny-looking curve over Cuba is not a real forecast, it’s caused by the 8 a.m. updated position not agreeing at all with the 5 a.m. forecast track.  Finding the center of such a sloppy system is extremely challenging, and this morning’s update illustrates that. What’s left of the center was repositioned to the north side of Cuba.

 


The forecast also indicates that Erika could reorganize into a tropical storm over the eastern Gulf.  But the abnormally large uncertainty in this forecast cannot be overstated.  It’s a case where the cone needs a cone!  It is absolutely possible that Erika’s remnants will never recover and regenerate.

As the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and soon Cuba can attest to, even a messy weak tropical cyclone or disturbance is quite capable of producing a LOT of rain.  The official intensity of the storm (tropical depression, Category 1 hurricane, Category 3 hurricane, etc) is only gauged by the peak wind somewhere in the entire storm, but other impacts are also destructive and must not be ignored.  The latest 5-day precipitation forecast below shows substantial amounts of rain for basically all of Florida, but particularly along the west coast.  This is by far the biggest anticipated impact from Erika, or what’s left of it.


Five-day rainfall forecast, valid through Thursday morning. (NOAA/WPC)

Stay tuned for further updates on Erika and its potential impacts.